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Man who allegedly stabbed Derek Chauvin in prison charged with attempted murder

John Turscak, 52, allegedly stabbed Chauvin repeatedly with an “improvised knife” in the law library of a Tucson federal prison.


A federal inmate charged with the attempted murder of Derek Chauvin told prosecutors that he had been thinking about attacking the former Minneapolis police officer because he was a “high-profile inmate,” according to a charging document.

John Turscak, 52, is accused of attacking Chauvin in the law library of a Tucson federal prison on Black Friday. Federal prosecutors allege he used an “improvised knife” to stab Chauvin approximately 22 times, causing “serious bodily injury.”

Turscak, who is serving a 30-year sentence for crimes committed as a member of the Mexican Mafia prison gang, initially told corrections officers that he would have killed Chauvin had they not intervened so quickly, according to the document. He later denied to FBI agents that he intended to kill Chauvin.

Turscak has been charged with attempted murder, assault with intent to commit murder, assault with a dangerous weapon and assault resulting in serious bodily injury. The first two charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years, and the latter two have maximum sentences of 10 years.

According to the charging document, Turscak said he carried out the attack on Black Friday because it was “symbolic with the Black Lives Matter movement and the ‘Black Hand’ symbol associated with the Mexican Mafia criminal organization.”

Chauvin is concurrently serving a 22 1/2-year state sentence for murder in the death of George Floyd in May 2020 and a 21-year federal sentence for violating Floyds civil rights. Chauvin was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes while Floyd cried out for help and bystanders pleaded with Chauvin to stop. Floyd’s murder sparked a national reckoning on race and police brutality in the U.S.

Chauvin’s stabbing has highlighted concerns about the dire conditions in federal prisons. Chauvin’s lawyer, Gregory M. Erickson, told The Associated Press that there was a lack of transparency from the corrections facility in Tucson, which has had security issues and staffing shortages. As my colleague Jordan Rubin wrote, the attack “should be cause for reflection and attention on the vile conditions in prisons and jails that let violence flourish.”